The wait for West Brom fans who long for a return to The Hawthorns will go on, following today’s announcement that plans to return fans to major sporting events has been ‘paused’.
The government’s plan to get fans back to football stadiums was due to begin on October 1, but with COVID-19 numbers spiking amid fear of a second wave of the virus, these plans have been put on hold, with no future date set.
That’s a major blow to West Brom, with the loss of matchday revenue now set to go on for the foreseeable future.
Michael Gove MP spoke on BBC breakfast about the decision to delay the return of supporters, which will mean the wait goes on for Baggies fans, who are dreaming of a return to the Hawthorns, to watch West Brom’s return to the top flight.
"We're looking at how we can pause that programme"
Michael Gove MP reveals on #BBCBreakfast the government are planning to postpone the return of fans to sporting events, which was due to start on 1st October.https://t.co/jNXmXEv29j pic.twitter.com/DqX4dBnvRH
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) September 22, 2020
When asked if it was still the plan to have fans back at sporting events on the first of October, Gove said,
“No. It was the case that we were looking at a staged programme of more people returning. It wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans. We’re looking for how we can at the moment pause that programme, but what we do want to do is to make sure that as and when circumstances allow get more people back.
“The virus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors, but its in the nature of major sporting events that there’s a lot of mingling.
“But of course, we also recognise that sport is a vital part of the life of this nation and we’re looking at everything we can do in order to support our athletes and great clubs through what will be a challenging time.”
PM Boris Johnson confirmed the move to stop fans coming back in October in an address to parliament on Tusday afternoon.
While it is incredibly frustrating for Baggies fans, who had to watch their team get promoted behind closed doors, and cannot watch new permanent signings Grady Diangana and Matheus Pereira in the flesh, the decision has been made for the safety of the British public.
It is a slightly harder pill to swallow following the successful trial of the small number of fans allowed at EFL games last weekend, and seeing images of the 10,000 strong crowd that attended Borussia Dortmund’s opening Bundesliga game.
But safety absolutely has to come first at the moment, the UK is trying to avoid a second wave of coronavirus and a second national lockdown. If a longer wait for football is the price to pay for saving lives, then the decision is a no brainer.
While it is frustrating that there is now no timeline on when fans can return to stadiums, the wait will hopefully be worth it.
However, there is now a very real chance that this entire Premier League season will be played behind closed doors.
That would be disastrous for the club as well as the fans, with budgets tight. The loss of a full year of revenue from fans would be a very tough one for West Brom to swallow.
However, at least West Brom are in the Premier League with new TV money. Life in the EFL now would be almost impossible.
It will have on-pitch implications as well. The Hawthorns at full capacity is a real asset to West Brom, with Baggies fans serving as a 12th man at times.
However, it looks like fans will have to get used to the “new normal” for a while longer yet.
In other West Brom news, ‘Joke’, ‘That’s poor’ – Many West Brom fans fume over official tweet on midweek clash.